Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Animals as Sentient Beings

What does being Sentient really mean? If you´re an animal rights activist or a vegan (another form or activism) then you hear this term a lot. It´s the number one reason why anyone who cares about animals doesnt want to see them hurt. But what does it mean to be sentient?

The fundamental reason why PETA exists is because there are people who believe that animals have thoughts and feelings and a basic right to not suffer needlessly at the hands of humans. It´s that simple. Being sentient means that they are more than just meat. When you see your dog happy when you come home, it´s because he knows who you are, and he feels happy to have you return. Or when a mother bear protects her cub, it´s because she has a strong instinct to protect her young. In these contexts it´s easy for most people to agree, why yes, animals must have thoughts and feelings and understand the world in their own way.

But if you take it a step further, to say that because that cow can feel pain, isn´t it wrong to strip her of her newborn calf for veal and milk production? Eek! Now, we have people backpeddling, trying to look at animals as closer to vegetables than living beings on this planet.

But if you can put that aside for one moment, and simply look at this question... does an animal´s ability to feel pain, sorrow, depression, lonely, crazy or any host of things, we would quickly attribute to one of our pets, doesn´t this also make sense that we should treat them as much?

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